End Pieces

She sat her husband down
made the confession she stole food
from the refrigerator

You mean our refrigerator? You didn’t steal nothin’.

Lou, I ate a sweet pickle and two slices of bread.
The end pieces.

That food’s yours, Flo! I bought that for you to eat.

I didn’t ask first.

You don’t have to for Chrissake. This is your home.

She opened the refrigerator
made herself an egg and fried Jumbo
He went next door to tell his sister

What does she know anymore, Lou?

Jesus Priest, she usedta grow her own cucumbers and can ’em. Put Heinz
to shame.  And baked every week, too. Bread and somethin’  sweet.

Forget about it. What’s said is said.

Worked half her life at Liberty Mirror.
Brought home a steady paycheck and this is what it comes down to.
Over a goddamned  pickle and two heels she hasta ask first!

Fran just told me there’s gonna be more layoffs.
And the lucky ones who keep their jobs have to take pay cuts.
Do you think the big cheeses bothered to ask first?  For somethin’ like ‘at!
That’s more than a couple of heels and a sweet pickle out of the fridge.

He waved his hand in disgust
left for the Giant Eagle
Bought groceries for him and Flo

She was alone with four slices of bread
two sweet pickles, floating
in a jar of green juice and seeds.

Paola Corso is a New York Foundation for the Arts poetry fellow and author of a book of poems Death by Renaissance (2004) set in her native Pittsburgh river town where her Italian immigrant grandfather and father worked in the steel mill. Her story collection Giovanna’s 86 Circles, also set in Pittsburgh, is forthcoming from the University of Wisconsin Press. Email her at paola_corso@hotmail.com.